December 20, 2017
WRHA welcomes final report of the Wait Times Reduction Task Force
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) today welcomed the release of the Wait Times Reduction Task Force report. The provincial report includes observations that reinforce the need for significant health system change and makes recommendations related to the region’s ongoing clinical consolidation.
“This report emphasizes the importance of improving wait times and access to timely care for patients and offers the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority additional checks and balances to employ as we move into Phase II of the Healing our Health System plan,” said Lori Lamont, Acting COO, Vice President Nursing and Health Professions. “The report reinforces the need for us to employ our changes thoughtfully and deliberately as we make decisions that will improve patient care and the performance of our health system.”
While the consultation process that informed the report was completed prior to the implementation of WRHA’s first Phase of Healing our Health System, the work done in Phase I shows clear alignment with the priorities highlighted by Task Force members. More than 30 recommendations included in the report are already in the process of being implemented by the WRHA or are being actively assessed for implementation as part of Phase II, added Lamont. These include: the creation of Critical Assessment Units/Rapid Assessment Zones to improve the flow of patients in Emergency Departments (EDs); the establishment of destination protocols for ambulances which ensure patients are transported to – and receive care in – the most appropriate facility; and the implementation of Emergency Department Information Systems (EDIS) and introduction of other decision-making tools like Oculys, across all Winnipeg Emergency Departments ensuring real-time data on ED volumes and the movement of patients.
“The report highlights the importance of implementing changes that will allow us to reach Canadian averages for wait times,” said Lamont. “We continue to believe the 24 month implementation period that was originally contemplated will allow us to make the necessary changes in a way that is both safe for patients and which will enable us to make significant improvements to our wait times.”
The report also suggests the need for further investment in specific sites such as the St. Boniface Hospital’s ED in order to best support the remaining changes set to take place in Phase II which Lamont agrees will support clinical consolidation.
“We have identified that the redevelopment of St. Boniface Emergency Department is a capital priority for us within WRHA and initial planning is underway to redevelop the existing ED to modernize the space and expand capacity in the short term,” said Lamont. “Further planning within the overall capital planning process is necessary to address the expected need for additional capacity at St. Boniface in the future.”
The report’s release comes as the WRHA, in partnership with the Centre for Healthcare Innovation, is undertaking a comprehensive evaluation of Phase I changes, to be completed in the new year. The evaluation process includes consultation with clinical staff as well as detailed analysis of a wide range of data in the following areas:
- Patient Flow e.g. Emergency Department wait times, Emergency Department and inpatient lengths of stay, patient transfers and the impact of new services;
- Safety Risks e.g. readmissions, critical transfers, and critical incidents;
- Patient Experience e.g. real-time surveys, patient complaints; and
- Workforce Impacts e.g. use of sick time, overtime and job opportunities across the system.
“The Wait Times Reduction Task Force report highlights an important recommendation regarding the need to ‘de-couple’ the closure of the ED at Concordia Hospital and the transition of the ED at Seven Oaks Hospital to an Urgent Care Centre,” said Lamont. “This recommendation aligns with the planning work already underway to expand our capacity for treating sub-acute patients. Through our comprehensive evaluation of Phase I and our detailed planning, of Phase II, we have determined that the changes at Concordia and Seven Oaks will not take place at the same time.”
Lamont further confirmed that in order to ensure continuity of excellent patient care, hospital changes in Phase II will take place in sequence, led by the opening of the new Emergency Department at Grace Hospital in late spring 2018.